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Ballet camp returns to SUNY Potsdam

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POTSDAM — Every year youths from the north country and beyond flock to SUNY Potsdam to learn to dance with the pros.

The Rebecca Kelly Ballet Camp returned to the college for its 11th year this week, teaching children and teens everything from ballet basics to advanced techniques. The camp is part of Potsdam’s Community Performance Series.

The students will show off their work tonight with a performance at 7 at SUNY Potsdam’s Dunn Theater.

The Rebecca Kelly Ballet Company is based in New York City and is composed of dancers from around the world. These dancers spend most of the year performing, but they take time to travel and teach younger dancers in the summer.

“In the summer it’s all about drawing people into the beauty of dance,” owner and choreographer Rebecca Kelly said.

This year, 41 students participated. They were divided into groups based on age and experience, and spent the week learning the steps to tonight’s show.

“Our goal at the end of the week is to give the kids the confidence to perform really, really well,” Ms. Kelly said.

The show will feature dances to traditional music, Israeli rap, an Australian aboriginal song and more.

“I try to use music from all over the globe,” Ms. Kelly said. “There’s no borders and no boundaries for me.”

Students worked with four members of the dance company, who hoped to pass along their own experience to a new generation.

Therese M. Wendler has been a dancer with the company for 10 years. When she was a 6-year-old in Phoenix, learning her first ballet steps, she hated it.

It wasn’t until she felt the joy of performing that she found her passion.

“Then we were on stage, and I ended up falling in love with dancing,” she said.

She said she hopes to pass that feeling along to other students. She has been teaching at SUNY Potsdam every summer for a decade. Elementary school pupils who took her class years ago are now in high school, and have come to the camp faithfully every year.

“I want to give them the experience I had, a positive experience,” she said.

Raul Peinado grew up in Spain before moving to New York City. He has been with the troupe seven years, and said teaching is an important part of dance.

“Teaching is actually a pretty amazing part of the career of the dancer,” he said.

Tonight’s recital costs $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger.

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